Toronto, Ont. – WoodGreen Community Services applauds the Ontario government for keeping their commitment to invest $100 million in additional funding over three years to expand community care programs such as adult day programs, meal services, transportation, assisted living services and caregiver supports in the re-tabling of today’s budget.
This community care investment can help organizations, like WoodGreen, to provide and expand their personal support and social programs that enable seniors to live independently for as long as possible.
“Our services alleviate pressure off hospitals and reduce the number of patients waiting for alternate care settings. They allow seniors to age at home with enhanced support and provide an additional option other than long-term care,” said Kevin Edmonson, Vice President of Community Care & Wellness with WoodGreen Community Services.
There is a growing number of patients occupying acute care settings but do not require the intensity of services in acute care, also known as Alternative Level of Care (ALC) patients.
“Right now, there are almost 5,000 ALC patients in Ontario. Community care programs can provide much-needed support to seniors, keeping them out of hospital and reducing the number of patients who are designated ALC waiting for long-term care and other settings,” said Edmonson.
While WoodGreen appreciates this short-term investment, it also continues to call on the government to put forward a long-term sector funding plan focused on improving the overall scope of senior wellness and community care that provides a spectrum of supports to help seniors age well at home.
The Ontario government today has also proposed to increase payments for the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) by five percent starting in September to help vulnerable populations, many of which are WoodGreen clients. The government intends to introduce changes that will increase ODSP rates annually, tied to inflation. This is welcome news and long overdue.
WoodGreen encourages the government to continue along its journey of social assistance reform to create an assured income approach for persons with disabilities, enabling the financial well-being of those who, in many cases, have faced lifelong barriers to social inclusion and employment. WoodGreen continues to call on the government to extend workforce development programs, employment supports, and financial empowerment and counselling support services that create a pathway for vulnerable communities including, homeless persons, isolated seniors, and social assistance recipients, many of which are WoodGreen clients, to upskill their work, obtain employment, or stabilize and rebuild their financial health.
Today’s throne speech by the Ontario government shared a willingness by the government to engage with health-system partners to identify solutions and implement measures to help ease system pressures. WoodGreen appreciates this statement, but we are disappointed that the speech failed to share any direct and immediate actions to address the ongoing health system crisis of recruitment and retention of staff, including personal support workers and frontline community staff. It is crucial that the province develop a workforce plan that includes wage parity among workers in the health system and additional funding in the sector for non-profit community care agencies, so they can pay their staff the wages they deserve.
ABOUT WOODGREEN COMMUNITY SERVICES (woodgreen.org): WoodGreen is one of the largest social service agencies in Toronto, serving 37,000 people each year. We offer over 75 programs and services tackling the social determinants that affect the health and well-being of individuals in our community.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Jen Mayville, Marketing & Communications Manager; [email protected]; (437) 226-8091 (cell)